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  India   Politics  29 Mar 2024  No Bar to Run Govt From Jail: Delhi HC

No Bar to Run Govt From Jail: Delhi HC

Published : Mar 29, 2024, 1:32 am IST
Updated : Mar 29, 2024, 1:32 am IST

Kejriwal told the Rouse Avenue court that a smokescreen of the AAP being corrupt has been created before the nation

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal leaves from the Rouse Avenue Court in the excise policy-linked money laundering case, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 28, 2024. (PTI Photo)
 Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal leaves from the Rouse Avenue Court in the excise policy-linked money laundering case, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 28, 2024. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court observed that there was “no legal bar in running the government from jail”. While dismissing a PIL seeking the removal of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from his post, the High Court said there was “no scope of judicial interference on this aspect”.

Kejriwal, who was produced in court, responded to a media query on lieutenant-governor V.K. Saxena’s remark that the “government cannot run from jail” by saying that “this is a political conspiracy… The public will give a befitting reply”. He said it was apparent that the ED was going all out to “destroy the AAP”.

Kejriwal told the Rouse Avenue court that a smokescreen of the AAP being corrupt has been created before the nation. He said: “I am named by four witnesses in the excise policy case. Are four statements enough to arrest a sitting CM?”

Kejriwal alleged that Sarath Chandra Reddy donated Rs 55 crore to the BJP. “I have evidence of this. The money trail is established as he donated funds after being arrested.”

Reddy is the director of Aurobindo Pharma Ltd and one of the co-accused-turned-approvers in the case.

In the High Court, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora said: “Having heard the counsel for the petitioner and having perused through the paperback, this court is of the view that there is no scope of judicial interference vis a vis the relief sought of removal of Respondent No. 4 (Mr Kejriwal) from the post of CM of the Government of NCT of Delhi. It is for the other wing of the government to examine the issue in accordance with the law”.

The high court dismissed the plea clarifying that it has not commented on the merits of the case. The bench said: “If there is a constitutional failure, the President or governor will act on it. We will not act on it. We read in today’s newspaper that the L-G is examining this issue. It will go to the President for examination. That is up to them, it belongs to a different wing. There may be practical difficulties but the question is if there is any legal bar today… The executive branch can look into this aspect. It may take some time and they may arrive at a conclusion, probably this situation was not envisaged. But how does the court get into all this? Let the executive branch examine it, whatever they have to do they will do.”

The counsel for the petitioner argued that the continuance of Kejriwal as chief minister after his arrest in the money-laundering case relating to the liquor policy has degraded the credibility of the Delhi government in the eyes of the general public. He argued that Kejriwal’s continuance as the chief minister would lead not only to obstruction of due process of law and disrupt the course of justice but also to breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state.

The plea moved by Surjit Singh Yadav called on the Centre, the state of Delhi through the chief secretary and the principal secretary to the lieutenant-governor to answer under what authority Kejriwal was holding the post of chief minister, and sought his removal from the post.

Yadav’s plea submitted the chief minister is incapable of transacting any business while in jail. It said that if he is allowed to do so any material, irrespective of its secretive nature, would have to be scanned thoroughly by the prison authorities before it reaches his hands. Such act, the plea added, would amount to direct breach of the oath of secrecy administered to the chief minister under the Third Schedule of the Constitution.

The plea submitted that Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules 1993 empower a chief minister to call for files from any department of the Cabinet. It said that Mr Kejriwal by virtue of being designated as the chief minister “would be well within his rights to demand for the investigation of files, wherein, he has been arraigned as an accused” and such a situation is against the ethos of criminal jurisprudence.

Tags: arvind kejriwal, delhi high court
Location: India, Delhi